The HR profession has helped improve many areas of the workplace in the past decade, but has a long way to go before it fulfils its potential.
A new book, A Decade of L.E.A.D. charts workplace attitudes in Australia in the past decade based on the Leadership, Employment and Direction surveys commissioned by Leadership Management Australasia (LMA).
It shows that the vast majority business leaders were taking HR very seriously (92 per cent) back in 2004, yet that figure has waned in recent times.
Grant Sexton, managing director of LMA, told HR Leader that a predicted talent management crisis back in 2004 heightened the importance of HR, but worse is set to come six years on. “If it was a wave back then there is a tsunami coming now. I think the next 10 years will see a new approach to business. Talent management will be the number one thing that drives business performance, with people really being the main competitive advantage,” he said.
“Wage bills are employers’ number one expense, so the reality is that people are the most important resource to any organisation. HR professionals are the keepers of that resource so its input will be a huge factor in the success of businesses over the coming years.”
The book reveals that areas such as work-life balance, flexibility, and training and development have all improved over the past 10 years.
However, finding and retaining good people has become increasingly hard for HR, along with not being able to provide the right environment for employees to further their careers. “Eighty-six per cent of employees want to progress their career within their current company but only 64 per cent believe they can do so,” said Sexton. “The reality is that there is a gap there that HR can fill by offering set career paths and learning and development.”
Communication remains an area of particular concern, with around a quarter of employees stating they have a manager who seldom or never listens to them, understand the issues they face or show interest in their views.
Lack of progression on gender equality is another issue cited in the past decade.
Sexton said that in order for HR to do achieve progress it must stake its claim for a place at the top of organisations’ hierarchy, and needs to start talking in more operational language rather than HR theory.
“HR has a great opportunity and challenge this coming decade. Right now their role is more important than anyone else’s,” he said.